There’s a saying that goes, “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as quickly as I could.” It would not be honest of me to say that that is how I’ve always felt. However, all of my children were adopted in Texas and we bought our first house here so it will always have a special place in my heart. I love the fact the entire state seems to have an entirely unique personality. They say everything is bigger here. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but some of the people with the biggest hearts I have ever met make this place their home, so there might be something to it. Adoption in TX has been my route to finding my home and my kids. I’m so glad for the twists and turns that brought us here.
Texas is a unique place and things are done a little bit differently here than in other places. Here are 16 things you should know about adoption in TX.
Texas is huge.
I’m super aware that others know this. I was not acutely aware of the scope of the hugeness. Pay attention to where the adoption office you hope to use is located. As a person who moved here from a significantly smaller state, the idea of driving hours and hours and still being in the same state is still something I struggle to wrap my brain around. Cue embarrassing storytime.
When we were researching adoption agencies and foster care agencies, I just searched “Adoption TX” and started at the top of the list. The first place I found was across the state. Now I am a relatively intelligent person, but it didn’t really occur to me to pull up a map and figure out just how far away I was from that particular office. It wasn’t until I was excitedly explaining to my husband how the agency was and casually mentioned the town that I was made aware of my blunder. He very patiently pulled up a map on the computer and showed me how many hours it would take to get to that particular agency. If I think about it too long, the shame overwhelms me and my cheeks redden. Don’t be like me. Be aware of your geography. Everywhere is further away than you think it is.
You can be as young as 21 to adopt.
If you are married, your agency might have regulations about how long you’ve been married before you can adopt. In some places, it’s a year and in others, it may be three to five years. Furthermore, if you hope to adopt before you hit 21, the process can take so long that by the time you are the right age, you might actually be approved.
You don’t have to own your own home to be an adoptive or foster parent.
As long as you have a clean, safe living space for yourself and a child, that is all you need. Yes, there are specific needs that vary from agency to agency about what “safe” means. In most cases, it means outlet covers, a locked medication box, cleaning solutions kept up high, and a fire escape. That’s it. I have a friend who fostered five children and had one older adopted child (so six children total y’all) in a three-bedroom apartment. I’m not sure how they made it work, but they did and the kids were pretty happy. They did eventually move into a house with a yard, but CPS will approve a place to live as long as there are enough beds, enough square space, running water, electricity, and safeties in place.
You don’t have to be wealthy to consider adoption in TX.
You need to be able to show evidence that you can provide adequately for yourself and your family, but you don’t need a fancy house or car to adopt. There are agencies that will work with you to pay the fees and grants can be applied for. Furthermore, if you foster to adopt in TX, it can be very inexpensive or even free depending on the circumstances. I have five kids through two adoptions. Our adoptions were free and our kids qualify for funds to help with their education, adult living, and daily life.
When my husband and I first started investigating adoption, we were both college students. We were broke. However, with some careful budgeting, we would still have been legally allowed to adopt at the time. We ended up waiting because life was a little overwhelming with us both working and in school but just know our finances had very little to do with that decision.
You don’t have to be married to adopt in TX.
Some children even thrive in single-parent homes because of attachment issues. I have a dear friend whose child may likely not have attached to her if there had been another adult around. However, her being a single parent, though difficult, was at times an asset because the child didn’t have someone else to run to if Mom was being “mean” and saying “no” to ice cream for breakfast.
Birth mothers need to wait at least 48 hours to make their decision final.
If you’re considering domestic infant adoption in TX, this is important to note. It isn’t instant and the expectant mom may decide she wants to parent on her own. She is perfectly within her rights to do so. You have no legal recourse should this happen.
There are thousands of children waiting to be adopted right now in Texas.
If you are willing and able to adopt older children, your wait could be much shorter than if you wanted to adopt an infant. By older, I don’t even mean elementary school age. My daughters came to me at six weeks old, three years old, and four years old. My boys were eight and nine when we first met. They were not old kids and there has still been lots of time to enjoy getting to be their mom. In my experience, it is a beautiful thing to get to adopt these sweet children who need a home. My kids are an amazing blessing to me and our family. I cannot imagine life without them.
There are scholarships available to college-age children who are adopted through the foster care system in Texas.
When my kids get to be college age, if they want to go to a college or trade school, it will be paid for by the state. They will still need to pay for things like textbooks but not having to worry about how they will pay for schooling is a huge deal for us. My son is hoping to be an engineer and we are able to encourage him towards that dream without worries that we’ll get to that point and not have the money to help him with schooling. Adoption in TX is supported by the state.
Adoptive parents are required to take training sessions before being allowed to adopt.
The number of hours varies from agency to agency but expect to spend some time in a classroom learning how to parent an adopted child. This is honestly a huge help. I learned so much in those classes. We learned about attachment, the foster care and adoptive process, and much more. I also made connections with other adoptive families who were on the same part of the journey as us.
There are many agencies to chose from.
Because Texas is so huge and the population is so varied, it is possible to find an agency that fits your needs fairly precisely. Do your research. Some are better than others. Look for agencies that have been around for a while, have a clear mission, care for their birth families past birth, and align with your own personal convictions and beliefs. If you feel like something isn’t right, walk away. There are many opportunities and avenues to pursue adoption in TX.
You have the power.
You might feel, as a hopeful adoptive parent or even an expectant parent who is considering adoption, that everyone else has the power. That isn’t so. You call the shots. If you aren’t being respected, are being lied to, and feel like something isn’t quite right, you are well within your rights, in the state of Texas and elsewhere, to go somewhere else for help for your family.
Sibling groups are considered a “special needs” group in Texas and qualify for special considerations and benefits.
Because it can be more difficult to find a place for a large sibling group, care is taken to try and place them together. Because it is often a lot to take on, the state offers incentives. The kids receive free healthcare until they turn 18 and in many cases, a monthly stipend to help provide for their care. A note: you will not be making money in this deal. It does help us afford fun stuff like movie nights and dinner out as a family every once in a while, which would be more difficult otherwise. Our kids get to play sports we might not be able to afford otherwise. So don’t be afraid of the special needs label. It doesn’t mean what you think it does.
There are adoption support groups sprouting up in most cities and towns in Texas.
Adoption can feel like an isolating, difficult, and lonely event. Kids have unexpected problems, your wait is longer than you hoped, maybe your paperwork got mislaid and you have to start over with that huge packet. Through it all, you’ll need support. Check with local agencies and you’ll find a network of adoptive families who work together to support each other. There are adoptive family retreats, adoptive mom retreats, adoptive dad get-togethers, and special events catered to adoptive families.
The state of Texas offers a service called “Post Adoptive Services.”
This program is such an amazing asset to our family. Right now, we are in the middle of a group read-through of a great adoptive family book. There is childcare and emotional support for everyone. Our Post Adopt coordinators arrange this. They help us find access to resources we wouldn’t have been aware of on our own. Our caseworker can pull strings at doctors’ offices, get us counselor referrals, and provide a listening ear when I’m about to lose my mind. My caseworker is a personal friend who will call up and ask me how I’m doing. During the pandemic shutdown, that alone made the bit of paperwork on the front end worth it. Oh, and it is an absolutely free service.
You can adopt even if you are older.
There is no upper age limit to how old someone can be to be an adoptive parent in Texas. Actually, older parents whose children have already left the nest are often fantastic parents to older children. These children need a safe place to figure out adulthood but aren’t yearning for Mommy and Daddy to tuck them in at night. Older children and teens need families as much as younger children but their needs are different. An older parent can help guide them through difficult transitions and set them up for adulthood.
Many employers in Texas offer adoption assistance.
We didn’t need it because our children were adopted from the state but my husband’s work offers adoption assistance and even paternity leave. Talk to your HR department to see what your workplace may offer.
I hope that if you are considering adoption in TX, these tips helped you make your decision. Our adoptions have been one of our life’s greatest joys. As I sit here, I’m watching my beautiful daughters play Minecraft together with their dad. I can’t even figure out how I got so lucky and blessed. Things aren’t ever really easy but they are good. So very, very good.